Usually, whatever aboriginal or indigenous people say about the environment is sacrosanct to environmentalists and government. However, when they disagree their knowledge is belittled and ignored. It is happening to the Inuit about polar bears.
Environmentalists and government claim polar bears are doomed because of global warming.
“Most of the world’s polar bears are likely to disappear in the next 30 to 50 years if the Arctic continues to heat up as climatologists predict, two University of Alberta scientists say.”
This is pure speculative alarmism apparently without knowledge of climate and polar bear history. The world has cooled since 1998, the IPCC predictions are already incorrect, and polar bears have survived thousands of years of warmer temperatures including the recent past.
In April 2012, a report by the government of Nunavut on polar bear number contradicted the so-called experts;
“the bear population is not in crisis as people believed,”
said Drikus Gissing, Nunavut’s director of wildlife management.
“There is no doom and gloom.”
“Mr. Gissing added that the government isn’t dismissing concerns about climate change, but he said Nunavut wants to base bear-management practices on current information “and not predictions about what might happen.”
In NTI (Nunavut Tunngavik Inc) vice-president James Eetoolook said,
“We have reported for many years that we are seeing more and more bears on the land and in communities, which raises public safety concerns.” “Inuit were told by scientists the reason there are more bears in communities is due to a decline in the condition of the population, but Inuit disagreed with this interpretation.”
“This is not about climate change,”
“This is about how polar bears were used to draw attention to climate change. Changes were not made to reduce the causes or impact of climate change, but changes were made to the harvesting quotas.”
He is talking about legal limits for trophy hunting a valuable commerce. As Freeman and Wenzel wrote:
“Although polar bear hides taken in the subsistence hunt have commercial value, revenues from nonresident trophy hunting provide a much greater economic return to the Inuit. Research suggests that these greater cash returns and the increased local interest by native hunters in outfitting and guiding do not threaten community cultural values, which continue to emphasize subsistence and the conservation of local wildlife resources. These outcomes suggests that community-based polar bear trophy hunts provide an example of a successful conservation-hunting program that contributes to wildlife management and sustainable economic and community development in the Canadian Arctic.”
James Eetoolook is correct. The government and environmentalists are wrong. Two major claims by the US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) supported by the Center for Biological Diversity in the legal brief, “IN RE POLAR BEAR ENDANGERED SPECIES ACT LISTING AND 4(d) RULE LITIGATION” (USCA Case #11-5219), illustrate the problem.
“Two findings were most critical to FWS’s listing determination: (1) extensive declines in Arctic sea ice extent already have occurred and are projected to continue; and (2) the polar bear depends on sea ice for its continued survival as a species. Appellants do not contest either of those findings. “ (page 17-18)
Finding 1 and the first sentence in the next section, which says,
“There has been an unprecedented decline in Arctic sea ice over the past several decades”
are incorrect. There are no accurate sea ice records that cover the “past several decades”. The first useable record began in 1980, two years after a satellite was launched.
The declines are not unprecedented. A slight decline in summer ice extent is appropriate for the warming that occurred from 1980 to 2000. Variance and extent have increased since 2000 by cooling and changing wind and ocean flows as the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) attests. (Figure 1)
The decline is projected to continue based on Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) projections but they are already incorrect (Figure 2).
More accurate and complete science predicts continued cooling, which began in 1998 would result in more ice.
Finding 2 is also false. Polar Bears have survived extensive periods with little or no sea ice. Greenland ice cores show a warmer world than today for a period of 8000 years; present temperatures are on the left. On the right side temperature rise from the Ice Age. It’s warmer by 2-3°C than today for most of the next 9000 years.
Research confirms the lack of ice;
“Recent mapping of a number of raised beach ridges on the north coast of Greenland suggests that the ice cover in the Arctic Ocean was greatly reduced some 6000-7000 years ago. The Arctic Ocean may have been periodically ice free.”
The polar bears survived.
Two positions on polar bear policy were presented at a 2007 Anchorage, Alaska hearing. The US government wanted them listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act.
“Supporters of the listing want the federal government to declare global warming as the direct cause of harm to polar bear habitat, sea ice, and consider limits on utilities and industry producing greenhouse gasses, not only in Alaska but throughout the country.”
Tina Cunnings, biologist and a special assistant to the commissioner of the Department of Fish and Game provided the different position presented by Alaskan Governor Sarah Palin.
“In her testimony, Cunning (sic) questioned whether federal experts were correctly interpreting scientific data, such as climate projection models. They disagree, she said, over when the Arctic Ocean could be virtually ice free in summers. Some say 40 years, some say 100 years, she said.”
Cunnings challenged listing when she
“questioned whether polar bears really need sea ice to survive. She said polar bears are adaptable to use land for hunting, and though their preferred food, ice seals, may be declining, bears are adapting to alternative food sources.”
This argument is about the rate of evolution from Southeast Alaskan Brown Bears to Polar Bears. DNA research indicates it was between 110,000 and 130,000 years ago, which makes it coincident with and triggered by the onset of the last Ice Age. Further evidence of the recent evolution of the polar bear is found in the existence of hybrids.
Governor Palin summarized the situation;
“The driving force in the concern over polar bears, she said, is the decline in sea ice. Listing bears as threatened, she said, would not cause sea water to freeze.”
“When a species” habitat, in this case, sea ice, is declining due to climate change, but there are no discrete human activities that can be regulated or modified to effect change, what do you do?”
After 5 years the Inuit, Cunnings, and Palin were correct; the hypothesis and predictions about warming and sea ice decline were wrong. Global temperature has declined despite increasing in CO2; sea ice extent has increased and understanding of the role of wind and currents in ice formation and movement have improved.
Paul Driessen wrote about EcoImperialism, the imposition of western environmentalism on other cultures, usually to their detriment. It is being done to the Inuit within Canada.